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Operationalizing Flight Formations for Aerodynamic Benefits
Citation key Luckner2020Formations
Author Donald Erbschloe and Adam Antczak and Dennis L. Carter and Gary A. Dale and Carsten Doll and Robert Luckner and Tobias Marks and Michael A. Niestroy
Title of Book AIAA Scitech 2020 Forum
Year 2020
DOI 10.2514/6.2020-1004
Abstract Nature abounds with examples of animals which decrease their energy expenditure by gliding off the bow waves of large moving objects, riding thermals, or flying in efficient configurations. The past twenty years has seen significant advances in the scientific understanding and feasibility of large aircraft saving energy by flying in advantageous pair or triple geometries. Several recent flight tests demonstrated reductions in fuel burn for trailing aircraft of 10\% or more. The energy savings can be converted into a variety of beneficial operational capabilities: extended range, increased loiter time, larger payload, cost savings, etc. The next looming challenge is operationalizing this practice. The discussion areas include: benefits, penalties, and trade-offs; operational modes; maneuvers; routing and scheduling; regulations; and the process of a deliberate, evolutionary approach in fielding this capability into existing aviation enterprises.
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